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R v Hancock & Shankland [1985] 3 WLR 1014

The appellants were convicted of murder for the death of a taxi driver. The appellants were miners on strike. They wanted to block the road to the mine to prevent works breaking the picket line. They had dropped lumps of concrete and a post from a bridge on to the carriageway below as the convoy of workers approached. The taxi was struck by two lumps of concrete resulting in death of the driver. The prosecution contended that the appellants conduct meant that they intended nothing less than serious bodily harm. The appellants argued they only intended to block the road and no harm was intended to result from the actions. The jury were directed in acordance with the Maloney guidelines of:

"First, was death or really serious injury in a murder case (or whatever relevant consequence must be proved to have been intended in any other case) a natural consequence of the defendant's voluntary act? Secondly, did the defendant foresee that consequence as being a natural consequence of his act? The jury should then be told that if they answer yes to both questions it is a proper inference for them to draw that he intended that
consequence."

The jury asked further guidance on the issue of intent with regards to foresight and the judge repeated the direction given. The jury convicted of murder. The Court of Appeal quashed the conviction and certified a point of law to the House of Lords as to whether the Maloney direction was misleading.

Held:

The Maloney direction was misleading as it did not refer to the degree of probability required.

The appropriate direction should include a reference to the degree of probability and in particular an explanation that the greater the probability of a consequence the more likely it is that the consequence was foreseen and that if that consequence was foreseen the greater the probability is that that consequence was also intended.
 
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